August 24, 2016

Two Wonderful Children's Picture Books

This post contains affiliate links. This means that when you click through to buy the product, a portion of the sale goes to me.*

I wanted to share today two children's picture books that have recently caught my eye. The first one is called "Virgina Wolf" by Kyo Maclear & illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.

Isabelle's illustrations have caught my eye in the past before, so I just had to check out this children's book. This was published back in 2012 and I love the illustrations in it. I found this book quite poetic and it could be used as a springboard for discussion of different emotions with children. It reads sisterly love, as one sister paints "Bloomsberry", which is a garden-like forest where her 'wolfish' sister wants to go. This was a winner in our house because of course sometimes you turn into a wolf, of course sometimes you feel dull, of course we paint all over the house, of course we do nice things for our sisters when they are in a 'funk', and of course we ALL loved the illustrations! Beautiful.
The page I opened the book up to when we got it... gasp!

"I want my Hat Back" is a clever picture book by Jon Klassen. Normally I go for books that are more elaborately illustrated, which is just my personal preference; but I do have respect for a well- designed book, and the wit with which this book is written makes it a definite stand- out.

It's a simply (seemingly) illustrated book. I say seemingly because there's often a lot of thought and design that goes on in the early stages of creating such a book. I think it's really well designed and my kids Miss 6 and Miss 8 loved it and asked for it to be re-read again and again.

There was one page around about the middle where, and I don't want to give anything away, but the main character of the story has a reaction that induced a lot of squealing and laughing. It's a witty, clever story that we all enjoyed. Well worth getting one for your bookshelf!
I want my hat back

Have you read any of these books? I just love kids books! If there's one you'd like me to check out, please let me know.

Jules :)

*Affiliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. You can be confident that I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

August 21, 2016

New Mailing List

I have just started up a mailing list! So if you would like to be reminded every now and then (around once a month) that I still walk this planet, sign up in the field that says "subscribe to my mailing list" to the right of this blog (depending on your viewing platform) so you can keep up to date with my happenings, shop updates, and general musings. I hope you will join me so we can regularly keep in touch and we can keep creativity flowing into our lives!

Happy Sunday (or whatever day it is in your corner of the world)...

Jules :)

August 18, 2016

Rug Hooking- New Obsession

Do you have Craft Attention Deficit Disorder?

I do! And there is no cure!

My latest project? Rug hooking.

Any time I see a hooked rug creation, it stops me in my tracks. I love the bumpy texture and the way all the colours are intermingling. It's that love I have for colourful texture that draws me in. It kind of reminds me of impressionist paintings.
Rag Rug by Kaffe Fassett

The hooked rug method is all about pulling up loops of fabric, felt or wool through some backing fabric which creates a neater appearance than a latch hooked surface. Latch hooking is so 70's. (Though I'm sure someone could prove me wrong there and show me a great version of a creation that's been latch hooked.)
My first venture into rug hooking

I first read about the method in one of Kaffe Fassett's books (One that I talked about here). I like that there weren't many rules in his book. I always thought you had to source pure wool fabric, felt it and maybe even dye it in different shades and then cut into uniform strips. When he said to use any type of fabric, this was motivation enough for me to try it out. I'm using cotton, old jersey fabric from worn out clothes, and anything else I happen to find in my fabric stash.

Some people stretch their work over a frame but I'm once again choosing the lazy crafters method and just hooking it as is. I am using hessian (I think it's called burlap in the US?) as the backing, and a crochet hook as I don't have a proper rug hooking tool. 

The going is a little slow. Especially slow compared to some videos I've seen of people doing this, and perhaps it's because I don't have the right tool, or that I just haven't got my technique down pat yet. I would like to get a proper tool as maybe it would make the task easier. Although to me they look like crochet hooks inset into a wooden handle. Then again, maybe my hessian is too- tightly woven.
Photo of hooked owls from Mary Art Spirit (I have a bit of an obsession with her work!)

A close up of the method of rug hooking. Image credit

Reminds me of the texture in this rug found at Temple & Webster

So I'll let you know how I go! In the meantime if you want to check it out how to do it too there are lots of videos on you-tube showing how. Maybe I can share my pattern here when I'm done if it looks any good. I know it piqued a few people's interest when I posted it on instagram. I do think it's a good project to sit down to on a weeknight or lazy Sunday, and it's also a good way to up cycle any old clothes.

What do you think? Have you tried out this craft?

Jules :)

August 13, 2016

Product vs Process Art

I always get excited when I discover there's actually a term or title for something that I'm passionate about. This article is all about the ways in which kids create art.

As was the same with the term "Wabi Sabi", for which I didn't even know there was a term for; the same rings true for my feelings about my newly acquired phrases "product art" and "process art".
Free painting time

I somehow stumbled across an article which talks about product art vs process art. The thing that I found comforting about this article was realising I'm not alone in my out-of-the-box thinking and there are other people out there that think like me. Always nice :)

I was excited when I came across this idea as it exactly outlays the thoughts I've been having trying to define how I want my kids to learn and practise art. I've naturally shied away from giving them rules for creating and 'how to draw' books, and am happier when I see them enjoy the moment and the process of creating art, and seeing their individual creations come to fruition.
A plate, paints and brushes. No other instructions!

So, let me explain. 

Process art. You sit your kids down, and for example you show them some pictures of sunsets. Give them some paper and paints and tell them to paint their own sunset. Each kid paints an entirely different picture, very individual, and you can look at each one and find something special and unique. One could paint it with big sloppy blobs, another could paint it more precise and carefully. The kids really get into the process. They are involved, enjoying mixing and applying paint, and being present in the moment. They are using creative thinking and exploring and constantly making decisions, and each kids' artwork looks different and unique.

Product art would be to show them exactly what they're going to create, give them all the same shapes and pieces and tell them exactly where to place them and glue it all together. Much like doing a puzzle where the pieces have a defined space and there is no creative thinking regarding what piece would go where, for whatever reason. All kids projects come out looking good and effective, yet there is hardly any difference between each individuals piece. Think 'how-to-draw' pictures, paint by numbers, colouring in pages with numbered spaces, crafty projects with step by step instructions. Even some painting/ art projects can be structured out in this way.
This project had steps involved, but there was freedom of expression within each step.

I think there's value in both ways of creating, but I do have a natural instinct within me that steers me towards getting them to make their own decisions during the process. If a child asks me for help during creating their artwork, I always give examples only and steer away from using words like "should" or "wrong". I always tell them "this is how I do it, but it's your artwork- it's up to you". Kids always come up with new ways of doing things when they are given the freedom.
We always find time to create. Sometimes you can't even stop to eat!

I recently created a poster with Miss 7's class mates. We already had a set topic of creating a poster for 'Snowfest', which is coming up soon in our local town. The teacher & I decided to create a wintery snow scene on dark paper. I knew I wanted snow in it, with characters in the snow, and snow flakes in the sky. My daughter and I showed each child how to make a snow flake and I told them to draw themselves, cut themselves out, and glue their character into the scene. We had kids drawing santa, animals and snowmen instead! A couple drew igloos. If I had've been stricter with my 'rules', we wouldn't have had these wonderful additions. I didn't tell them how the characters needed to be drawn, only gave them a piece of paper and let them figure it out themselves. (I had to keep a few 'rules' in there to make sure there was space for everyone to contribute!)
Our finished 'Snowfest' poster

Another article I enjoyed about this topic was this one. Even though the above poster was created with an end product in mind, I was still mindful of letting the kids do their own thing. That article has a good explanation of creating a 'product' whilst also keeping the 'process' in mind.

I think when kids create this way we get happy surprises and the kids can feel more connected to, and proud of their work. Of course, there are necessary skills to be learned with each way of creating, but I think creative thinking is an important skill and it's place in our kids eduction needs to be protected.  There's already so much pressure on the young ones to perform and meet expectations, I would like to see this freedom of expression nurtured and encouraged.

And I'm a happy Mama watching them get messy and experiment!  And maybe a little too lazy for rules anyway!
Happy mess-making.

Jules :)

August 01, 2016

Colour! & Getting Inspired by Kaffe Fassett

This post contains affiliate links. This means that when you click through to buy the product, a portion of the sale goes to me.*

I love looking at Kaffe Fassett's books about his home and crafts. I take total comfort in the fact that this man not only dabbles in, but is successful in crafts including knitting, quilting, fabric design, ceramics, needlepoint, mosaicing AND painting. Phew! I don't know how he does it all, but he does, he has, and due to my interest in many different areas of craft, I'm happy with that thought for now.
Kaffe at home

I would love to hear a 'day in the life of' or be a fly on the wall for a week or so in his house. Just to see how he squeezes it all in.

He seems to have enough fantastic amazing achievements under his belt for him to be indoctrinated into some sort of art/ design/ craft hall of fame, of which I won't go into here; but if you are interested you can read about him on his website's biography page.

I've been flicking through one of his books Welcome Home that was published in 2010. I can foresee a future collection of Kaffe's books expanding in my own home library. (They would probably never leave my coffee table.)

More than half of the book is used to describe and show his wonderfully creative & colourful home. The second half has some craft projects with instruction for quilts, rugs and a brief explanation of mosaicing.
He paints his walls, glues fabric and paper to them, mosaics surfaces and just has explosions of colour and pattern everywhere, and I love it.

I am so inspired by his home. It's just the sort of thing I want to do here at my place. Just fill the walls and every nook and cranny so that there is something for me to look at everywhere I turn. I feel more comforted the more decorative things get. Let's not confuse that with clutter and really try to stretch the imagination and pretend that I'm not a hoarder. Ok? ;)
An outdoor mosaic by Kaffe
To see more of his home watch this video I found on youtube. I find his home so wonderful it makes me teary! 

Other things I have been thinking about Kaffe recently:

1. Imagine if as a child he was steered away from pattern, fabrics and crafts. I'm not sure what his life story is as a youngster, but he's a reminder that we need to foster and support our children's interests and skills. Even if they go against the status quo.

2. I love that he's so eccentric yet popular.

3. I love that he's a man making all this stuff. My brother used to crochet (and enjoy it) when he was younger. If only boys were encouraged to continue with these interests.

And here's a quote I loved from Kaffe on people's use of colour (of which they sometimes seem afraid to do so).

"I think that people have a much more poetic soul for colour than they think at first and I give people licence, I think... I say, come on! Read the riot act and express yourself, express that inner person which might be lemon yellow and bright pink. Let it come out! And I think I'm very encouraging to people to have a go and experience colour."

Yes! Experience it :)

After flicking through this book I got inspired and loaded up some paints on my brushes and continued on with a project I have going on in my bathroom:
Certainly not as detailed as Kaffe's rooms, but hopefully I'll get there!

And I also got back into mosaicing with this one that I made incorporating some elements of my artwork.
So I'll continue flicking through his Welcome Home book and I would love to get a couple more of his books to give me more inspiration and fuel to carry on with some more projects. So inspiring!

I'd love to hear about who inspires you to be more creative.

Jules :)

*Affiliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. You can be confident that I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

July 25, 2016

Why I Love Taking Part in The Global Talent Search

A lot of illustrators will already know about this competition run by Lilla Rogers from Make Art That Sells. Especially ones that are active online in social media. (Is Instagram your favourite too!?)
Mini prep assignment; sampling colours from one of my own photos

It's The Global Talent Search that she runs once a year to find a new illustrator to represent through her agency Lilla Rogers Studio. That's one big prize!

This is my second year taking part. In no way do I have any delusions of grandiose, (winning the comp... but one can dream!) but the main reason I'm taking part is because I just enjoyed it so thoroughly last year.
Mini prep assignment: Lettering practise. Illustrating the letter 'S'.


Every time you get an assignment (she has devised these mini tasks that are called GTS prep assignments) you get pushed out of your comfort zone. Like challenging yourself to use new colours, or to illustrate something that you may not initially be drawn to illustrate. I always find, even if I'm not totally keen on the subject, that I always learn something. Growth happens, and I find new respect or admiration for something that didn't interest me beforehand.

That once happened when I was commissioned to do a painting and my customer requested that there be some purple in the painting. I never really used purple before, and wasn't even sure how to mix the best hues. So, I had to learn. I researched and bought some new paints. For a colour that never sparked much interest before, I found that I actually enjoyed using it, and now purples and shades of pinks frequently appear in my artwork! I would never have started doing that if I hadn't have been pushed to try something out of what I was already comfortable with.
Mini prep assignment: Filling in the blanks within a paragraph that Lilla wrote about being a dessert. Who would expect anything less of a quirky assignment from someone that represents artists!?

Another reason is creating new folio pieces, practising my craft, and just plain fun. You get to connect with other illustrators & creatives through social media all over the world and spur each other on and that's a really nice bonus. You also get feedback from others which, let's face it, if you're an illustrator you need to be making art that other people enjoy so it's good to get that positive feedback.
Mini prep assignment: Illustrating my favourite drink.

So now the mini preps are done I'm ready for the first main assignment and am waiting with bated breath. Bring it on Lilla!

Jules :)




July 22, 2016

DIY Geo Origami Mobile

Want an easy craft to do that has big impact for little effort? Go these origami geo shapes. So fun and effective.

You can even make these origami shapes and hang them randomly around your house. They are a little addictive :)
I made all these geo origami shapes then decided to hang them from fishing line onto a triangle of branches found in my backyard. The branches I cut were about 40cm (16") in length.
You'll need scrap book papers, small branches, string or twine or wool & fishing line, scissors, and a hot glue gun.
Ok, so here's what you do in picture form:
Hopefully my pictures are self explanatory. Let me know if you get confused! Once you have made one, make another the same size. For each geo shape you need two pieces that will glue together. Poke a small hole in the top of one piece and thread string/ wool/ fishing line through with a decent knot in one end to hold it up. 
The next part is a bit tricky where you place the two parts together using your hot glue gun to join. I think it's easy to go around and do one 'point' at a time, until you've glued all of the points together.

Then, go crazy! Hang them from twigs like I have done or dot them throughout your house :)
The beauty of this project is you can customise your papers to suit your own taste and style. Of course, I have used colourful decorative scrap booking papers for mine. My largest geo shape is made from two standard sized scrap book papers. The rest I cut down smaller than that. Play around with different sizes. The small ones look so cute!

Have fun :)